Feb. 24, 2008

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) begins its 2008 campaign on Sunday, February 24th at Hawks Field. The double header against Rider University was scheduled for a noon start but will be changed to a single game beginning at 3:00 p.m. due to wet field conditions.

Second year head coach Will Gardner expects to see an improved effort capitalizing on a quality class of junior college recruits. "We've done a good job of filling some big holes left open at the end of last season. These guys love being out here and they have a hunger that you don't teach."

The recruits Coach Gardner speaks of are Ryan Coppi (Omaha, Neb.), Pat Hercinger (Papillion, Neb.) Josh Dunham (DesMoines, Iowa), Russel Deutschmann (Baden, Ontario, Canada), Michael Guy (Lake Ariel, Pa.) and Elliott Arrington (Upper Marlboro, Md.).

Coppi and Guy are expected to split time behind the plate although Guy will be sidelined for the first series due to an eye injury. "Both of these catchers are quality defensive backstops. They handle our staff well and are working well with first year pitching coach, Mick Bigwood. I expect them to be able to control the running game. Opponents certainly should not be running at will." Coppi could see some action in the hot corner, also.

Deutschmann and Hercinger will be our corner guys, but Hercinger will also be called upon to perform outfield duties. "Deutschmann has great hands around the bag and Hercinger just has good baseball knowledge that puts him in the right place at the right time."



Anchoring the infield up the middle will be Dunham. "Josh can play any position on the infield. He certainly has the tenacity to make things happen defensively." The last of the juco guys is Elliott Arrington. Elliott will begin the season giving relief from out of the bullpen. "I've been extremely impressed with Elliott's progress over the last 6 weeks. He works down in the zone and can throw several pitches for strikes. He's certainly a welcome addition. He just needs to get bigger and stronger to handle the toll of a 56-game schedule.

Other new-comers expected to see time early on are freshman Remo Orsini and sophomore transfer Phil Vaughn. Orsini is expected to play opposite Dunham up the middle while Vaughn will anchor the outfield. "Remo is the perfect counterpart to Josh. They work extremely well together and he's a sponge for learning to play the game at this level. Phil has shown a phenomenal work ethic since joining us last fall. Both of these guys will play significant roles right away for us."

The two returners expected to be everyday guys for us right away are senior Kenny Richardson and junior Tyler Love. Richardson will do time at third base while Love is expected to make the transition to left field. "I wasn't expecting to use either of these guys in this capacity this season," commented Gardner. "Injuries and eligibility issues have forced our hand a little, but I'm confident that both of them can handle the responsibilities that come with each of these positions." Richardson and Love both spent time last year filling the third base hole.

The designated hitter spot will be filled by committee.

Sophomore right-hander, Carl Huber, will head up the starting pitching rotation. After coming off of fairly limited action in 2007, Huber is expected to take the ball in the first game of every weekend season. "Huber is such a competitor. He has a great mentality and when he's on, can make it extremely difficult for opposing hitters." Mike Roberts is expected to get the nod for the second spot, just as he did last year. The junior left-hander possesses very good off-speed stuff which should continue to keep hitters off-balance.

A rejuvenated Richardson will open the season as the number three starter. "Kenny's a fireball. We just have to keep him contained and make sure he's channeling all of his energy in a positive direction."

Newcomer Matt Witte and Senior Dan Sterling will be seeing spot starts during the season and will also lend support to the weekend rotation along with returners Brian White, Jervonta' Wright, and Deutschmann.

"Pitching is a concern," stated Gardner. "I think the guys we have here are quality guys. We just haven't developed our staff enough yet. We're still a little too thin for what I would like. I do believe that they will have a higher confidence level in the defense that's behind them this year and that should allow them to throw more strikes, something that the UMES staff has struggled with over the past several years."

Gardner noted that the defense, as a whole, should be much improved over last year's squad. "You'll certainly see a different look and a progressively stronger intensity level." The offense is where Gardner hopes the team excels. "We have more power potential this year over last and I think it's balanced throughout the order."

Vaughn is expected to lead off followed by Dunham in the two-hole. The middle part of the order will probably shape up with Hercinger at three, Coppi at four and Deutschmann batting fifth. The sixth and seven spots will be determined on a day-to-day basis depending on the line-up while Love and Orsini will probably anchor the bottom of the order.

"We're expecting to see a lot of positives come out of this season. How far we go will be determined by avoiding extensive injury bugs and rallying around our pitching staff. We've certainly got a good group of individuals. Now, if we can work as a unit, then we'll have some opportunistic outcomes."

The opening series concludes on Monday. Lehigh University will visit Princess Anne on Wednesday for a doubleheader starting at 12pm.

This season all of the home games will feature GameTracker so fans can follow the live stats of the game. Select games will also feature Hawk Eye Video Streaming.

Watch the game flow and stats live with Gametracker.

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